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Are the post-Brexit figures in?

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Since the Brexit vote much attention has been focussed on whether or not the narrow decision to leave the EU, the political turmoil following the decision and the almost inevitable recession that we find ourselves propelled towards is having an impact on online retail. This week, with your usual Editor Chloe Rigby on holiday it falls to me to give you the definitive answer: we don’t know.

What we do know, however, is that June did see a drop in ecommerce growth rates, but that the latest BRC-KPMG figures, as we report, show that July saw that reversed – which indicates that any Brexit woes have yet to hit non-food online sales and shopper confidence.

In-store, however, witness yet more negative growth.

However, a comparison of traffic to the top 25 UK retail sites between Q1 and Q2 could perhaps paint a different picture. As our story shows, analysing Similar Web data,, a global social commerce network that includes HotUKDeals in the UK, has revealed that the number of visits to the top 25 UK online retail sites has dropped by nearly 4% between Q1 and Q2 2016. While and continue to lead the top 25 online retailers in the UK, they too saw declines on more than 3% each. Only six retailers – lead by , B&Q and Screwfix – saw an increase.

The Brexit vote may well have come right at the end of the Q2 cycle, but something has happened over the early summer that has slowed traffic down.

DIY-ers seem to have bucked the trend, but as the study points out, this is largely due to figures from their spring sales, when DIY and home improvement shops have a big push. The rest – including Amazon and eBay – are dropping.

Now this could just be a blip – it is only 4% after all – but it is likely that pre-Brexit uncertainty (after all no one really knew what the outcome was likely to be right up until the votes were counted) and then the subsequent chaos unleashed by the referendum has played a part. This drop in traffic – coupled with a fairly minor recovery in online sales between June and July – could well be the harbinger of worse to come.

The uncertainty around Brexit has caused a wobble pre vote; the numbers for the next quarter post vote are likely to be, I would wager, rather more chilling.

But that gives all the more impetus then to looking at how to drive sales across the most potent part of the retail year: Christmas. As we see also in today’s newsletter the time is now to start to look at how to get ready for Black Friday and Christmas.

One upshot of the Brexit vote has been a collapse in the pound, so if you already sell a lot overseas – or are looking to try and do so in the second half of 2016 and for Christmas – you are in luck.

Overseas markets are likely to be where UK players can make up some lost ground from their jittery domestic customers and we offer some sound advice on how to do it right now.

These may be challenging times – and there may well be worse to come – but there is always an upside. Happy hunting.

Chloe Rigby is away.


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